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Can't Be Saved (Not So Frail)

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There's a calm and practiced knock on the thick door of his study, the sound of which snaps his attention away from the letter he'd been looking over. He does not get a chance to call out before the door swings open.

“I would like to speak to you.”

Derek glances up from the papers before him without lifting his head. “And is there any reason the matter cannot wait until supper?”

“No. I mean yes. I mean—I'd very much like to speak about it now.” She bounces on her toes and adds, “In private.”

“We are not expecting guests at supper,” he says, eyes back on his papers and away from the anxious looking girl in front of him.

“But everyone else will be there,” she insists. “Please—it won't take long.”

Derek exhales through his nose and scoots his chair back from the desk, looking at her head on. “Yes, Miss Kira, what would you like to discuss?”

Kira is all of 19 years, young and fresh and beautiful, his young ward in his house too large for only one man. Dressed finely this afternoon, the fabric around her sways as merrily as she does, her smile illuminating the room.

“I was hoping,” she says slowly, “to introduce you to someone.”

When Kira was born, it was expected she would marry Benjamin, his infant brother. Derek found it very ridiculous that any such arrangement could be made when neither of them could speak—but he had other things to occupy his young and foolish thoughts. Then Benjamin and everyone else he ever loved burned and there was nothing to think about anymore but his own regrets.

When Kira's territory fell into disputes that escalated into war, taking the child in had brought life back into his world. She was tiny and couldn't stay quiet long enough to draw breath and asked questions about everything that caught her eye. It had completely slipped his mind that the child would grow and take interests like literature and the damned spectacle of science, and—eventually—suitors.

It’s not as if Derek doesn’t know that Kira goes out nearly every day. It’s not as if Derek isn’t aware that when she’s not with him, she’s off with someone else. But she has a chaperone and she knows her duties and Derek is busy tending to land and people and he doesn’t always have the amount of time he would like to keep an eye on her. Still, Derek could have gone his whole life without having firm confirmation that Kira was running off to see a particular someone every chance she got.

“His name is Scott,” Kira says, clasping her hands behind her back. “He’s—he’s an Alpha, in town. His mother is very sweet, and he has a small pack that he looks after.”

Derek huffs. “It was never your father’s intention to marry you into a pack, Kira.”

“They’re all independent,” she argues. “He lives only with his mother and his best friend.”

Derek arches an eyebrow. “He lives with another who isn’t his family?”

“Practically family. Honestly, Derek, you’re so—proper.”

“You say that as if it were an insult.”

“Well it's just silly sometimes,” she says softly. “Not that you're silly. I—he's like a brother. An adopted brother. So it isn't improper at all.”

“And I suppose it's very proper that he has been taking what I can only assume is a considerable amount of your company without consulting me?”

Kira pouts. It only serves to remind him that she's still a child. “But Madame Morell was with me the whole time.”

Derek crosses his arms over his chest. “Kira.”

“Please,” she says quietly. “Please, just agree to meet him? He very much wants to speak with you. He—he was in lessons with Cora.”

“Cora’s in France,” Derek says. “Cora does not matter.”

“I’m only trying to tell you that he’s a good man, Derek!” Kira protests. “And he wants to meet you because he—because he loves me.”

Derek closes his eyes tightly, leaning towards his desk. He makes a moment to breathe, gather his thought. An Alpha called Scott who is in love with his ward, who lives with an adopted brother that he cares for, who Derek has never met. He wants to claw his own brain out.

“Please,” Kira says again. “Derek, please. He only wants to meet you.”

“Very well. I will extend an invitation to him and his mother.”

“And Stiles? His brother.”

Derek raises an eyebrow. “I will invite his entire household if you only let me finish my work, Kira.”

She grins and leans over his wide desk to kiss the top of his head. “Thank you! Thank you thank you thank you.”

He sighs. “I will see you at supper, Kira.”

Kira isn’t his daughter, not really. He’s old enough for her to be his, but he was great friends with her parents. It pains him to know that they’re gone, just as much as he’s sure it pains Kira as well. Both of them, families lost, just looking for something to hang on to—for Derek, that’s Kira. Apparently for Kira it’s some boy called Scott.

“Not a boy,” Miss Morell tells him. They’re in the study, this time on the couches, looking across at each other. “Twenty-five years of age, and his brother is the same. His mother is nearing her fifties, and she works as a healer. Her husband abandoned them, and Mr. Stilinski was brought into their household after the death of his father when he was young. He was in the military.”

Derek bites the inside of his mouth. “You’ve issued the invitation?”

“I sent Mr. Boyd to do so. I expect him to return within the hour.”

“Then I'm sure the boy—don't look at me that way—I'm sure he can speak for himself this evening.”

“He's humble,” Morell continues, “and kind—”

“He's a pack Alpha,” Derek cuts in, “a young one. He must be stretched thin as he is. What makes you think he can look after Kira?”

She levels a glare at him. “Kira doesn't need looking after.”

“It concerns me to hear that from her most constant chaperone. Perhaps I'll assign Mr. Boyd to the task instead.”

Miss Morell rolls her eyes. “Sir—”

“Marin.”

She smiles softly. “Derek, she is a bright young woman, and if she has her heart set on a pack Alpha, she’s going to have that pack Alpha. I do my duty, as you very well know, and I can assure you that Alpha McCall has never laid a hand on her except to help her from a carriage or kiss her hand. He’s perhaps even more proper than you are.”

“Good,” Derek grunts.

“But don’t you want her to be happy?” she questions. “Don’t you want her to feel loved? To get married? Have babies?”

“Of course I want her every happiness; it's my duty to her to oversee that she finds a good match. So she can be loved and married and raise her children in a proper home the way her parents would have wanted her to.”

“Her father,” Miss Morell says slowly, “would have wanted her to be with someone she loved. If she loves Alpha McCall, it is your duty to understand why.” She stands, smoothing down her dress. “If you’ll excuse me, sir.”

“Let me know when they arrive, please.”

She nods lowly and leaves, closing the door behind herself.


 

Scott McCall is a man of twenty-five, medium build, a kind face, and bright eyes. His mother is similarly described, quite beautiful actually, and dressed like she’s going to a wedding. She looks surprised, almost nervous, and Scott shares that expression. The only one of them who doesn’t look nervous is who Derek assumes to be Scott’s brother—Stiles, Kira had called him.

Derek tries to remember how to be a charming and welcoming host but he only ends up remembering that he never learned. Kira can only stand at his side for so long before she bursts forward.

“I'm so glad all of you could join us,” she says hurriedly.

Scott and Stiles and Mrs. McCall seem perfectly comfortable around her and Derek does his best to seem friendly when Kira introduces him as her guardian.

“Lord Hale,” Mrs. McCall says, curtsying carefully. Both Scott and Stiles manage subtle bows. “Thank you so much for welcoming us into your home.”

“It's my pleasure,” he tries to assure her. “Kira spoke so highly of your family.”

The woman smiles and something inside him twists, a dusty memory of his own mother's smile.

Derek doesn't say much at all to Scott but he does shake his hand rather firmly. He's promised not to ask any questions until they've at least had one course of their supper.

It’s obvious that Scott and Kira have had many conversations together. They speak together like old friends, going back and forth with ease, and Derek is almost moved by it. He’s never seen Kira so happy with anyone before, not even when she was younger and would spend her days crawling all over him and laughing in his face.

They don’t talk at all about matrimony, about courting, nothing at all like that. Derek feels almost relaxed, lets himself ease into the conversation with a lot more comfort, and he’s practically elated by dessert.

Scott talks to Derek about his pack, about the fact that none of them live in his household and he offers them all the support and protection they ask for and need without intruding on their lives.

“I don't come from a pack myself,” Scott explains, “so I do things maybe—differently than traditional Alphas do. But I do right by my pack.”

Derek nods. “And Mr. Stilinski is the exception to your hands off policy?”

He notices the young man in question smiles something coy and wicked, which was not at all Derek's intention.

“The support and protection that Stiles needs is constant,” Scott says with a grin.

“I’m a hopeless soul,” Stiles says, looking straight at Derek.

Derek is curious then, to understand what exactly is mean by both of these statements, but he doesn’t press.

“He’s just teasing,” Kira tells him, laying a hand on Derek’s arm. “Stiles is very independent, but they’ve been together for years, the two of them.”

“Scott is my dearest friend and brother,” Stiles tells him frankly, never looking away. His gaze is intense, and Derek feels like he’s being stripped just by Stiles’ eyes. It’s—not comfortable. “I count myself very lucky to have him.”

When their plates are cleared Derek nods towards Scott. “I'd like to have a word with you in my study if that's alright. Kira, please show Mrs. McCall and Mr. Stilinski your garden. I'm sure they'd love to see it.”

She glares as subtly as she can manage and he smiles. Kira absolutely hates that garden. It was Marin's idea of a time out when she got too rowdy as a child and she's still sent to tend the roses whenever she gets underfoot or otherwise obnoxious. She rarely ever complies and yet the flowers are always lovely. Derek highly suspects Mr. Boyd looks after it in his spare time.

They all disperse, Kira leading Mrs. McCall and Stiles out large doors to the side of the hall, Derek accompanying Scott into his study. He’s quiet, stiff, and he pours himself a drink while a member of his staff closes the doors, leaving him and Scott alone.

“I’m hoping I already know what you want,” Derek says calmly, offering Scott a glass.

He accepts it. “I’m hoping so too, my lord.”

Derek lets out a heavy breath. “Your position is not the best, you must know that.”

The young man looks down at his feet. “Kira—”

“Kira doesn't care a wick if you can afford her dresses and bonnets, I'm well aware. It doesn't change the fact that I have to look after her best interests. I'd like her to be with an Alpha that puts her above all else even if he cannot afford her every luxury.”

Scott looks surprised. “I know you do not know me, sir, but I can promise you that that is my only wish. I—I love Kira quite dearly, and all I want is to provide for her, make her happy.”

“So you will marry off your brother,” Derek says, taking a sip from his drink. Scott is speechless. “I’m sure you understand; it’s not proper to have an unclaimed wolf in your house when he’s not your blood, not even related to you by legal paper. Once you find a home for Mr. Stilinski, I will give my consent for you to wed Kira. I think,” he adds quickly, before Scott can speak, “that you are a trustworthy man, and I believe you would do well by Kira, but not until you sort out your household.”

“You don’t understand,” Scott argues. “It’s not—he needs me to protect him. It’s not about saving face, because everyone who knows him knows that there is nothing to save. He’s been—harassed. By Alphas. Abused. If you understand my meaning.”

Derek takes a step back. “And this was—”

“Before he came into my home. He was on his own for weeks before we even heard word of his father's passing and so many had—I can't just marry him off. I need to be sure he's happy and safe and loved.”

Derek is silent for a long moment. “Scott, this is an indelicate question but it is important that I know—is your brother an omega?”

Scott’s jaw clenches. “Yes,” he says tensely. “He is.”

Derek nearly throws his glass. It’s just—harder, like this. He can’t say no to Kira, not when she’s so in love with Scott as to want to marry him, but he can’t let her enter the home of an omega with past sexual trauma. It’s not done. And he can’t put her in that situation.

“I understand why this would be a problem,” Scott says eagerly, “but Kira and Stiles are great friends and he’s not of any threat to her.”

“No, I'm sure your household is a loving and safe place I am not saying otherwise. But it does not exist in a vacuum. I cannot expose her to harassment and abuse, even if it is only words.”

“I would keep her safe from that too,” Scott insists. “My pack—”

“This is not a discussion of what your pack can and will do for you and whomever you chose to marry. It is a discussion of taking Kira from here where there is nothing to cast a shadow on her good name and putting her out for the wolves. There is also the matter of your attention. How can you protect your brother and a wife, provide for both?”

“Because I can,” Scott insists. “I am not a child! I care very deeply for Kira—I love her, and I love my brother as well and I would not let harm come to either one of them. But I will not marry off my brother to some willing Alpha just to see him hurt again. I will wait for him to find someone to love, and that is something I am not willing to compromise on.”

Derek sets down his glass. “What do you propose there is to be done then?”

Scott squares his shoulders. “I cannot presume on what you would do, my lord. I only came to express my—my love for Kira. And my honorable intensions. The rest is entirely in your hands.”

“But you will not marry off your brother.”

“Not until he wishes to be married, no, sir.”

Derek nods. “I will speak with Kira. I will make no promises to you, Scott, but I—I hope to see you soon again.”

“I wish the same, Lord Hale,” Scott says, and he shakes Derek’s hand before he leaves.


 

It’s days. Days of Kira in his study, sitting with him, going around and around in circles of conversation, trying to figure out a way for Derek to agree with anything she proposes.

“He can’t live with you,” Derek says for the hundredth time. “Honestly, Kira, I know he’s seen trouble, but I will not allow him to live in a household with you and your husband. There is nothing you can say to me that will change my mind about that.”

“So we must resolve a way for him to not be in the house with us,” Kira says. “One that satisfies both you and Scott.”

“Maybe we can find a good arrangement for him. An apprenticeship or a position of companion somewhere he'll be safe. Perhaps with an older, widowed omega.”

“That's depressing,” she sighs.

“That is possibly the best option for him until he finds an Alpha.”

“What if he falls in love with a Beta?”

“Well that's inadvisable but that would be up to his and Scott's discretion I would imagine.”

Kira sighs. “Derek, I have another suggestion.”

Derek sighs heavily, pushing his face into his hands. “What?”

“If I were to marry Scott, I would join his household,” she says slowly. “So you would have no one here with you.”

“Kira.”

“It's not a terrible idea, Derek.”

“You think I should take him in as my ward?” Derek asks, face twisting in confusion and the slightest bit of disgust. He tamps it down, knowing that he’s being unfair. There’s nothing disgusting about an omega who needs help, no matter what it is they’ve been through.

Kira leans only slightly forward, hands clasped in her lap. “Derek, you are a good man. I know that. But you are also a lonely man. And it’s not as if I won’t be to see you as often as I can, but you could use a companion. And Stiles needs a companion too, to keep him out of trouble, to discourage other Alphas away from him.”

Derek is still frowning. “Scott said he had a reputation.”

“His father had died, Derek,” Kira says, reprimanding. “He was young, frightened, and an Alpha—used him. More than one. You cannot judge a person based on what was done to them, only on how they grow from it.”

“You're right; I cannot judge him in any sense. I do not know the boy, yet you ask me to take a complete stranger into my home.”

“You would both benefit from it,” Kira insists. “Derek, it is the easiest course of action for us.” She takes his hands, looking pleadingly into his eyes. “Derek, I love Scott. And Scott loves me. And I want to marry him. But you have instituted this impossible rule—”

Derek’s greatest weakness is that he wants Kira to be happy. He would move mountains for her, bend the will of the ocean, all if it meant that she would smile. And Derek knows, honestly, that she loves Scott with all of her heart.

“Okay,” he tells her, quietly, looking down at their hands.

“Truly? You’ll take him in?”

Derek sighs. “I will make the offer. If Mr. Stilinski accepts, you and Scott will be married.”

She makes a high pitched sound of joy and wraps her arms around him the way she does when he says something surprisingly kind or gives her a present.

She kisses his cheek and he blushes at her excitement, but he doesn't chastise her. He never could stomp down on her enthusiasm and for a while he worried it would make things harder when she tried to find a husband, but in the end she found someone just for her. He can't help but be overjoyed, even though the thought of losing her breaks his heart a little.

He worries, only slightly, that Scott will be unhappy with this arrangement. Even if Stiles is willing to make that sacrifice for his friend, Derek doesn’t know how far Scott’s sense of duty towards Stiles extends. If Scott is unwilling to part with him, even for Kira, it could be a disaster.

Apparently, there doesn’t seem to be an issue at all.

Scott comes to see him, alone. Kira is in the library, Miss Morell with her, and he takes Scott into the house, into the sitting room, and Derek sips from a supremely expensive whiskey while Scott speaks.

“Lord Hale, I only wish to convey to you that I—I am trusting you with something dearly important to me. If Stiles communicates to me any—anything that I might find intolerable, I will not hesitate to protect him.”

Derek arches an eyebrow. “Mr. Stilinski is entirely safe in my house, I assure you. There were omegas in my family as well. I understand the bond of brotherhood. I won’t let him come to any harm.”

“Even from yourself?”

“I am 40 years of age, Alpha McCall, and unlike yourself I have been a wolf all that time. I know how to control myself. Even around omegas.”

Scott looks doubtful, but he nods.

“Kira can tell you that I have little time to interact with my household. If it weren't for her habit of bursting into my study every quarter hour I'd hardly see her but at supper. Your brother will be quite comfortable and have all the companionship that Kira had. If he wants a tutor he'll have one; he'll have anything he needs and wants. I am trusting you with her, you may trust me with him.”

“I understand that,” Scott says as he nods, “and I that is why I am willing to trust you as well.”

“I've had word from my sister Cora about yourself and your brother.”

Scott blushes to the tops of his ears. “I wasn't a very well behaved schoolboy. Neither was Stiles.”

“Oh yes I've heard. But there was nothing to cause alarm. In fact she tells me you're noble above all else.” Derek stands, setting down his glass, and Scott does the same. “I have to thank you for everything you’ve done.”

“Sir?”

Derek exhales slowly. “Nearly a year ago, Kira fell into a depression over the loss of her parents. It was—frightening, for everyone, especially because she had always been such a happy girl. But I remember seeing her go out each day and return happier than the last, and I believe it has much to do with you.”

Scott looks pleased, as he should. “Thank you, my lord. She—she’s made me much happier as well.”

“You’ll do well by her.”

“I couldn’t do anything less.”

“I'll be in touch to speak to your mother about the preparations. You're welcome to bring your brother at his leisure so that he can become acquainted with the house and the grounds.”

Scott nods. “He was making all sorts of offers about running off if it meant I could marry Kira. I think he will find this a vast improvement on his ideas.”

“I’m pleased to hear it.”

They shake hands and Scott leaves. Derek is about to head into his study when he sees Kira poking her head out of the hall door, looking enormously pleased.

“What?” Derek asks.

“Just thinking,” she says.

“About?”

She opens the door fully, sashaying into the room with her hands clasped behind her back. “Have you ever kissed anyone?”

Derek bites his tongue. “Why do you need to know that?”

“Miss Morell is quite stingy with her rules and Scott is a perfect gentleman and I only wonder—how are you to know if you’re going to enjoy being married to someone if you don’t know what it is to kiss them?”

Derek rolls his eyes. “Kira.”

“I think I’m just going to go see Scott off at the gate,” she says through a laugh, and practically sprints after the departing man.

“Kira!”

He knows the proper thing to do is hold her back, make sure she doesn't make a fool of herself. But she's in love and they have no family names to soil, not anymore. Only dusty cold hallways that she deserves to be away from. He never could shut her up in her bedroom the way other older, more bitter men said she should be. So he lets her run out to the sunny drive and the gates and the man who will make her happy and he wonders for the first time in a long time what will become of the rest of his days.


 

Kira and Scott are married on the lawn of Derek’s estate. Stiles’ things have already been moved into the house; he’s been around nearly every day since they began preparing for the wedding, and Derek is slowly adjusting to his presence. It’s different having a young man around the house rather than a woman. In some ways, it’s even more awkward. But he doesn’t mind, doesn’t begrudge Kira and Scott their happiness, and Stiles doesn’t seem to either.

“Did you pick out the dress, Lord Derek?”

Derek turns away from gazing after Kira to see Stiles behind him. “I didn’t,” Derek tells him, “but she would look beautiful even if I had.”

“Which speaks, I imagine, to compliment her beauty, and not your taste in fashion.”

“I don't have a mind for fashion,” he says evenly, “or much anything else but the affairs of the estate. I wanted to mention that I won't begrudge you any company you invite; it is your home as well now. But you must be chaperoned at all times.”

Stiles gazes at him almost as if he were some curious artifact. “And what about when I am in your company. Must I be chaperoned then?”

“If you wish to be,” Derek says. “If you are uncomfortable around me, Mr. Boyd and Miss Morell will take care to see you’re not left alone with me.”

“You do not make me uncomfortable,” Stiles says, and he’s smiling now. “I only wanted to know what parameters you had set yourself.”

Derek grunts. “I know that being in the home of an Alpha may worry you, but I assure you that I can control myself.”

“How old are you, Lord Derek?”

“How old are you, Mr. Stilinski?”

“I’ll be twenty-six in a handful of months,” Stiles informs him. “Do you think I need a chaperone?”

“It’s proper, especially because you are not being courted and apparently have no plans to marry. Which,” Derek adds with a grumble, “an omega of your age should be looking to do.”

“Oh is that how it's going to be?”

“No. I promised your brother I would grant you the same freedoms as he and I will. It is no concern of mine whether you marry or not only that it be to your advantage if you do.” Derek looks over his shoulder again, at Kira. “You might find that being married makes you happy.”

“You’ve never been married, Lord Derek, and you are several years older than I am.”

“And I am an Alpha.”

Stiles hums. “Yes. Yes, you are.” He strolls away then, towards the happy couple, and Derek is left feeling like he’s just had all of the breath in his body taken away.

In the next days he secludes himself in his study. The days seem unending without Kira barging in every other moment, with the tense unfamiliarity of his new ward at dinner. Stiles takes to everyone else in the household, but he watches Derek vigilantly like he doesn't know whether or not to trust him. Derek can't find it in himself to blame the boy. He wonders what exactly he went through, if the Alphas that took advantage of him were brought to justice.

It’s—different, having an omega in the house. All of the servants and staff are betas, and Derek has that done on purpose. Omegas are—temperamental, easily aggravated, and there’s the small matter of their heat. For four to five days a month, omegas cannot work, speak, or leave their room. Heats are shorter with a mate, which is why many omegas choose to marry early in life, but Stiles is unmated and Derek is an Alpha. He’ll have to seclude himself when the time comes.

Stiles brings him a calendar. “So that you know,” he says, dropping it on the desk in Derek’s study and departing just as quickly. Usually Stiles lingers during their few encounters, but Derek soon discovers why he would be in such a hurry.

His heat is in three days.

He's shocked by the numbered days in front of him. He could usually ignore Kira's natural cycles because, well, it didn't affect him in the least. The kitchen, it affected them, but not him. Kira would just sit and whine a bit with whatever sweet she had a craving for sitting on her lap, skirts spread out on the chair in the corner of his study. But this is different and he doesn't know how to handle it.

“We separate you,” Mr. Boyd tells him. “Mr. Stilinski will be secluded to his rooms, brought food and bathing water, and your lordship to a separate part of the house.”

Derek runs his hands through his hair, down his face. “We will need guards, make sure I don’t go to him.”

“If you think that will be an issue, my lord.”

Derek only remembers smelling an omega in heat once. When he was younger, in his twenties, there was an omega girl who was hours away from the cycle, about to be plunged into it headfirst. She just out around the town, like she didn’t know, like she didn’t care, and Derek had nearly lost his mind just at the scent of her. It’s not fair, awful, that Alphas have such little control, and Derek refuses to hurt Stiles. So yes, he’ll keep himself locked away.

“Perhaps the guards will only alarm him. Scott said that he had no trouble leaving the house a few days a month; perhaps I should do the same.”

“That might become a problem,” Boyd points out, “given you haven't many acquaintances to take up with so often.”

Derek turns with a bored glare. “I did need reminding of the lacks in my social life, Boyd. Much appreciated.”

“Why don't we consult Mr. Stilinski as to what would make him most comfortable.”

Derek huffs an exhale, nods. “Yes. All right. That seems—the best decision.”

Stiles is reading, tucked into a small mound of pillows in the library that he appears to have brought there himself. He has a whole pile of books beside him, and he’s—nesting. It’s so ridiculously sweet that Derek nearly stumbles backwards, beside himself.

“Stiles,” he greets him, as casually as he knows how.

Stiles looks up but doesn’t lift his head. “Hello, Lord Derek.”

“We need to—discuss some things. Pertaining to—the coming days.”

Stiles closes his book. “I wasn't aware that it was going to be a problem. House is big enough. I know how to stay out of the way.”

“I just want to be sure you feel safe.”

“Oh, I'll feel safe. It's going to be—uncomfortable. It always is.”

“Perhaps it's another mark on the side of marriage, if you are keeping any sort of list.”

The boy blinks at him with his too long lashes. “And what ever does marriage have to do with heat, my lord?”

“Well your—your spouse would help make it all less uncomfortable. Or so I've heard.”

“What you've heard is true,” Stiles says, looking back to his book, “but it doesn't have to be my spouse. Someone simply has to be there.”

Derek stares for a second, entirely unsure of what to say. Does that—does that mean that Stiles has had others lovers? Ones he took willingly?

“Don’t look so scandalized,” Stiles mutters, turning a page. “You can’t have thought every omega ever waits until their wedding night. I assume you know what an omega’s heat does to an Alpha. It’s only worse for us, you know.” He looks up now, straight into Derek’s eyes. “When all we want is to be filled, touched, sucked. When all we need is release.”

Derek takes a half step back. “I just needed to know if you wanted me out of the house.”

Stiles shrugs, squirms further into his little nest, looks at his book again. “Do whatever you want. I’ll manage.”

Derek doesn't run. It's not proper. Not until he's well out of the library and out of earshot of the damned place. But he does run. He runs all the way out to the cottage of Dr. Deaton and bangs on the door until the man opens.

“My lord, are you all right?”

Derek shakes his head. “I'd like to—I need to—can I stay here? You may take up rooms at the house. It'll be but a few days.”

Dr. Deaton sits him down at the table, brings him tea, and sets about packing a bag. “An omega,” the doctor laughs dryly, rolling his eyes. “I can’t imagine what possessed you to take in an omega.”

“Kira’s happiness,” Derek grumbles.

“I suspect this will be a monthly occurrence then?”

“I—don’t know.”

“You are welcome to my home when you need it, Derek,” Dr. Deaton says, laying a hand on his shoulder. “I only hope you learn that this is not the end of the world. You will learn how to control yourself around him.”

Derek closes his eyes. “He—says things. He’s a distraction. I never had this problem with Kira.”

“It is biology,” Deaton sighs wistfully.

“No. The way he expresses himself, so crudely.”

“Perhaps that is his nature. You must admit you knew little about the young man when you agreed to take him in.”

“I only knew it would make her happy.”

“Well, you will have to deal with the consequences. Perhaps he is brash and improper and you will have to live with that. Can you?”

Derek nods. “Of course I can. It is little more than annoying.”

Dr. Deaton doesn’t look convinced but he nods, taking his bag in hand. “I will send Mr. Boyd to bring you clothes. You know where everything is.”

“Only a few days,” Derek assures him.

“I will return when Mr. Stilinski’s heat is over,” Deaton agrees. “Try not to drive yourself mad in the meantime.”

Derek has a lot of theories about sex. He’s been celibate for a long time, had a lover before Kira was even born, another maybe a year or two after that, but none after she came to live with him, none since nearly two decades ago, and Derek hadn’t thought it would matter that much. It wasn’t proper to take lovers, not for any unmarried man, certainly not for one in his position, and it would be unfair, cruel of him, to keep someone around the house and make Kira uncomfortable.

He could get married. He could meet someone, wed them, bed them. It would be easy. But he doesn’t want to, not really. He’s enjoyed his own control, his own life, and perhaps he misses sex and that is why his body is betraying him at this instant, but he doesn’t need a mate. He doesn’t need a spouse. Derek only needs to take himself in hand.

He tells himself so, convinces himself since he is so far away and can't catch the scent that he has perfect control. So when Deaton comes back and tells him he is safe to return to his own home he feels rather proud of himself.

Stiles is in his study, sitting on his chair, and all of that self-confidence fades. “Ran away, did you?”

Derek clears his throat. “I didn't want to take any risks with your safety.”

“How gallant,” Stiles says as he leans forward, “though the house smelled stale and empty. I had a collection of handkerchiefs but Scott said it was best I not bring them, had me burn them. Made for a rather frustrating few days.”

Derek raises an eyebrow in total confusion.

“From Alphas. They would slip them in my pocket when I went out into town without Scott.”

Derek swallows tightly.

“An Alpha’s scent, it helps,” Stiles informs him. “You know the reason omegas have heats?”

“To encourage them to produce children.”

“And what type of wolf is the best to mate with an omega?”

“An Alpha.”

“Why?”

Derek blinks. “Because omegas are good breeders and Alphas—are good providers.”

It’s all instinct, an Alpha’s need to provide for an omega. It goes back centuries, this need to make sure an omega is taken care of.

“Omegas are comforted by an Alpha’s scent, makes the heat easier, sometimes even shorter. It convinces the body that an Alpha is there, and the heat subsides.” Stiles stands. “Next time,” he says, strolling past Derek, “don’t leave the house.”

“I—”

“Please,” Stiles adds, and he closes the door behind himself on his way out.

Derek feels faint. It's perhaps the most forward conversation he's had in years and it is completely inappropriate to have with someone under his care. It isn't right, and somehow that builds up feelings in him that feel even less so.

He does miss it. Sex. He misses being so close to someone else, their scent, their body. He wasn’t quite so proper when he was young, would flirt and mock and tease girls in their dresses. On one memorable occasion when a girl was without her chaperone, they fucked in his carriage, her skirts gathered all up into his lap as she rode him over the bumps of the street.

He misses sex. Even bringing himself to orgasm hasn’t helped completely eliminate that feeling. Over the next week he’s hard so often that he knows he must be embarrassing the poor laundry staff, cleaning his come out of his sheets, his trousers. He needs—something, and he’s ashamed by it.


 

Kira and Scott visit when they return from their honeymoon. The second heat of Stiles’ in Derek’s company has passed now and this one was worse than last month. Derek stayed in the house like Stiles asked, which meant he could hear it, smell it, knew that Stiles was losing his mind in his rooms, bringing himself off over and over again, trying to find some release—

It’s not proper, but Derek thinks about it, can’t help himself. And he’s disgusted by himself more often than not nowadays. He’s just eager to see Kira again, hold her again, connect himself to her. He hadn’t even realized how incredibly he missed her.

Scott takes Stiles aside to talk and Kira hugs him and tells him of all the beautiful things she saw in her travels.

“Are you happy?”

She grins. “I can't imagine being happier.”

“Good,” he says with a smile. “That's all that matters.”

“How are things with the arrangement?”

“It's... It's all right. We're doing just fine.”

Kira laughs, squeezing his arm. “I know Stiles can be abrasive. Perhaps it’s what you need, someone to shake down your walls.”

Derek only reaches to hug her again, holding her close. “I’m glad you’re back,” he says softly. “You’ll visit.”

“Often,” Kira assures him. “Soon you’ll be tired of seeing me.”

“Never.”

Once they leave to finally settle into Scott's home, he's left once again alone with Stiles. The boy knocks on the door of his study and he gathers himself before he calls for him to come in.

“Can I help you?”

“I had a talk with Scott,” he begins. “He says I shouldn't...make light of your hospitality.”

Derek isn’t entirely sure what he means by that, but he only nods.

“So,” Stiles continues, stepping further into the room, “I wanted to apologize.”

“You have nothing to apologize for, Mr. Stilinski.”

“I made you uncomfortable. You have no need to put up with my cheek or my heats. If it's all right, I'd like to make the basement more comfortable and seal it.”

Derek nods. “I’ll have Mr. Boyd attend to you for anything you need. If that’s what you’d like to do, the space is yours.”

“It’s very much appreciated,” Stiles tells him, and then he leaves, and Derek feels like he’s just missed something very, very important.


 

As polite and kept Stiles was that afternoon, his so-called “abrasive” behavior doesn’t really change except in regards to heats. He must know that this condition of omegas makes Derek nervous so he doesn’t play to it, but everything else is apparently still available for manipulation.

It’s a couple weeks before Derek notices.

Stiles begins to hang around him like Kira would, barging in, sometimes just sitting around on his couches and talking to him. He’ll mention things.

It’s cold in here.

I’m quite thirsty.

I haven’t eaten in hours.

More blankets would be appreciated.

And Derek jumps to his every whim without even noticing. Instinct, all of it, calling him to do what the omega needs. So he lights a fire, brings Stiles water and wine and food, has blankets and pillows and books piled in every room of the house, ready for Stiles whenever he wants them.

Stiles is lying on the couch in Derek’s study, across from his desk, flipping through a book he’s read a handful of times already. He yawns, turns a page. Yawns again. Shifts his weight, pulls his blanket a little higher on his shoulders.

“Are you comfortable?”

“Hmm? Oh, yes. Don't let me bother you.”

“You're not,” Derek mumbles. “You're squirming.”

“Well I'm a little tired, but my room is drafty and it—doesn't smell right.”

“There’s something wrong with your room?”

Stiles shrugs, nuzzles his face into a pillow. “No, I just—it smells unused. Boring. Dusty. Books and me and nothing else. Not like this room.”

Derek’s mouth waters. He shakes himself, turning back to his papers. “Ask one of the staff to walk around in it.”

“Would you?” Stiles asks, humming.

“Would I?”

“Make it smell more like you?”

“That wouldn't be appropriate,” he says, eyes back down on his papers.

“I don't think the staff would help,” Stiles sighs.

“I'm sorry,” Derek says, gritting his teeth. It hurts to deny him and it shouldn't—it can't feel that way.

Stiles sits up, shucking away his blanket. “It’s all right,” he says quietly, but he sounds defeated, disappointed, and Derek aches. “I should go to sleep. Only a few days left.”

They’re going to unveil the refurnished basement that Stiles has designed for himself. His heat is quickly approaching and it will be easier with Stiles down there, with everything he needs. It’ll be easier with Derek further away from him, so he doesn’t have to listen to Stiles pant and moan and come.

He drops his head onto his desk, body warming too quickly. Without even trying, images come to mind, Stiles’ amber eyes, pink mouth, the soft, sweet line of his jaw. Stiles’ broad shoulders, lean waist, the shape of his ass in his trousers. He thinks, imagines, what Stiles’ cock would look like, feel like, taste like—he imagines what it would be to fuck Stiles into his mattress, just the way he needs it, the way he craves it—

He snarls, his fangs filling up his mouth, and takes his hand off of his cock. It’s this ridiculous Alpha behavior that he hates so much, the way he can convince himself that Stiles wants something he has no proof of. He’s driving himself crazy like this, expecting Stiles to come out from corners and lay his hands on Derek’s body. It’s a sickness.


 

He's sick with it, that's why he does it. The rugs are all fresh and there's a fireplace with a chimney that will rise from below the ground just outside and blow away from the house. It's perfect and ready to be warmed and ready for Stiles to nest and comfort himself and it's because he's sick that he's even down there, running his fingers through the rug and his palms over the sheets on the bed.

Stiles is out, away, gathering things with Mr. Boyd. So Derek sits on the bed and eases onto his back, staring up at the ceiling. It smells like Stiles. It smells like Stiles and sleep and comfort. And Derek can’t remember ever wanting someone like this. Even when he had lovers, it was never like this—it was easier than this. Right now all he can think about is Stiles, naked, hard, sitting on his cock, and he has a hand down his trousers before he knows it.

He shouldn’t. God, he shouldn’t. But it feels so good and he’s so comfortable and it isn’t going to take long. Stiles never has to know. And besides, if he leaves his scent here, it’ll be easier for Stiles. That’s what he said, wasn’t it? An Alpha’s scent helps?

He can’t think about that for long, though. He loses himself in fantasies of Stiles riding him, holding him down, fucking himself on Derek’s cock over and over again. Behind his eyelids he can see it, see Stiles, moaning, saying Derek’s name so sweetly, and that’s what makes Derek come, imagining his name on Stiles’ tongue.

There’s a washroom. He cleans himself up, washes his face. He’s hot with embarrassment and pleasure, exhaustion weighing heavy on his bones, and he heads towards the door when it swings open.

Stiles looks—broken.

“Early,” is the first word he says, his legs taking short steps. “It—my heat came on early.”

Derek backs up, tries not to breathe, but it’s intense and sudden and there's no escape. “Stiles, you have to—get out of the way.”

Stiles shakes his head, eyes looking dazed. “No, please no. Stay. Stay with me.”

“You don’t want—your heat—”

“I do want,” Stiles says. “I want you. Are you blind?”

“Stiles—”

Stiles kisses him. Lunges for him, throwing his arms around Derek’s shoulders, mouth slipping against his easily, and Derek suddenly has them up against the wall, Stiles’ legs wrapped around his waist.

“Let—go,” he says stiffly, Stiles kissing down his jaw.

“I have to have you,” Stiles says, ignoring him completely. “God, I keep thinking about it—need you. Please, Derek—please.”

“This isn't—it isn't you, it's your scent,” he tries to argue. “Your scent that drives me mad.”

Stiles pulls back just slightly and Derek tries to take advantage of the fact to move but his limbs won't listen. And then Stiles whimpers. “You don't—you don't want me?”

“Stiles,” he breathes out.

“I can be good for you,” the boy whines against his neck. “Please, Derek,” he says again. “I can be so good for you, everything you desire.”

Derek chokes back a moan. “Stiles.”

Stiles squirms against him, arching and whining and saying his name. “I felt so badly for poor Boyd,” he says, clawing gingerly at Derek’s neck. “He could smell it, but he’s a beta—more control. I think he only worried for my safety.”

“You were out in town,” Derek accuses. “When your heat came on.”

“I didn’t know,” Stiles moans, and his claws rip through Derek’s shirt.

“I can't do this to you,” Derek chokes out.

Stiles whimpers again. “I—if you're going to leave me then leave me now.”

“Stiles, I—it's for your own good.”

“You're my own good. I've never—God, I need you so badly. It's never been like this before.”

Derek feels like he can’t breathe, Stiles’ scent dripping into his lungs, making him ache. He knows, soon, he’s going to lose any and all willpower he currently has, and he knows he should leave, knows that Stiles—that Scott, that Kira—will hate him for this, but he can’t move. He can’t move except to grip Stiles’ thighs tighter, pull him closer, and arch against him, mind lost to Stiles’ scent and warmth.

“You must,” Stiles pants out. “You must know I want you just this much...”

“I know,” Derek groans. “I can feel it.”

“No,” Stiles says, shaking his head. “No, I mean—just as much when I'm—oh God please hold me closer. I want you just this much when I'm lucid.” He’s trembling, gripping Derek’s arms. “I have wanted you for months. And I need—I need you. I know you can take care of me, I know you’re a good provider, I just know you are.” He throws himself closer to Derek, kissing him filthily, mouth open, breath coming fast. “I have to—right now, Derek. It will only get worse if we wait.”

And it breaks Derek, it snaps the last bit of moral objection he holds and makes him bend to Stiles' needs. Stiles needs to be kept warm, he needs to be comforted, he needs to be filled and bred and cared for. Derek's entire body aches with the need to provide that, provide for him.

“I have you,” he pants out softly into Stiles' ear. “I'm going to take such good care of you.”

It’s on instinct that he gathers everything. He carries Stiles over by the fireplace because he’s shivering and maybe it’s not because of the cold but it doesn’t matter. There’s a pile of blankets already laid out and Derek grabs pillows as well, dropping them and searching for everything they might possibly need.

His blood is boiling under his skin, desperate, and when he returns to Stiles by the fireplace, the young man is naked, three fingers tucked up inside his body.

He's whimpering, a blush of warmth building up his chest and neck that Derek wants to taste. He does. He leans over him and licks a stripe up his collarbone, the taste and scent of him setting off explosions of heat and tension all over his body. He feels Stiles' warming hands work their way up his sides, tugging wildly and uselessly at his waist coat and the buckle of his trousers.

It feels like undressing takes forever. He’s careless with the clothes, doesn’t care about them at all, but there’s so many of them, and by the time he’s naked, Stiles is gone. The noises coming from his mouth are more animal than man, eyes glowing blue, and Derek gathers Stiles close, pushing inside of him between one breath and the next.

He wants to cry just a bit, just at the overwhelming rightness of something he thought so wrong. He can't remember why he thought so before. The only thing right in the world is being deep inside Stiles, the boy's legs wrapped around his waist begging for an impossible closeness, his throat working as he tries to sob out words.

He doesn’t need Stiles to speak. He just needs this. He just needs Stiles wrapped up tight around him, their bodies moving together as Derek fucks him through all of this, carries him through it, as Derek becomes what Stiles needs most.

He rests his forehead on Stiles’ collarbone, hands settling on his hips. Derek can watch, like this. He can pull Stiles’ legs up over his shoulders, hook his knees over Derek’s neck, and that’s what he does, just so he can hear Stiles moan, so he can feel him move, demand more. Like this it’s better, easier, and Derek can fuck into him as fast as he wants, as deep as Stiles needs him to, as hard as either of them can take.

Stiles is taking huge gulps of air now, as if he's trying to stay afloat in water. He pulls Derek closer to himself until all he can do is move his hips in short close thrusts while Stiles pants and moans against his neck.

“Needed you,” Stiles sobs out under his breath. “Needed this, dreamt about it.”

“Tell me,” Derek groans. “Tell me.”

“What did you—what I thought of, those heats. I thought of ohgod, of this. Of you in me, around me, protecting me, breeding me. You will, won't you?”

It’s not even a question. Derek’s only possible answer is yes. And he says it, many times, as he pushes into Stiles, as he fucks him through the first wave of his heat. He understands now why it’s called a heat—he feels like he’s engulfed in a giant cloud of warmth and sex and need, tangled with Stiles, desperate for moremoremore

Stiles comes for what feels like forever, holding onto Derek. He comes and comes and Derek never wants to leave his embrace, feels delightfully trapped right here, never wants it to stop.

As soon as he comes, Stiles tangles himself closer to him, whispering in his ear about how good it is, how much he needed it, needs him. Derek does everything in his limited power to stay alert. He isn’t sure how he manages the presence of mind to pull out, to roll onto his back and stroke himself to completion. Stiles is half on top of him, kissing his skin and whispering to him, but Derek comes over his own chest and closes his eyes tight, riding it out.

Stiles falls asleep. He falls asleep with his face pushed into Derek’s neck, and Derek tries to catch his breath, tries to come back to himself.

He can't stay up at all, he's out within seconds. When he does wake up it's because his body is on fire. He's hard, but he can hardly process that thought before he realizes that Stiles has his soft, wet mouth wrapped around him, eyes closed and lashes brushing his cheeks. Derek licks his own lips and lays his hand firmly at the back of Stiles' neck. The boy looks up at him, eyes glinting as his mouth moves less gently around him.

It’s as if Derek is the one in heat, gone for sensations and orgasms and Stiles’ body. His mouth is perfect, his throat clenching around the head of Derek’s cock, and he wants to fuck Stiles open again. When he rolls his hips, Stiles moans bobbing his head faster, taking Derek deeper, and it’s all he can do to keep his eyes open, watching as Stiles swallows him down.

He wants to come down Stiles’ throat, watch Stiles choke and his eyes go watery, but Stiles is climbing up his body before he gets the chance.

Stiles kisses him, deep and hot and as intimate as their entwined bodies. He spins, his bare back pressed against Derek's chest as he stretches like a house cat. “Please,” he mewls.

The best part about this is that Derek doesn’t have to think. Thought is overrated anyway, and all Derek has to do is spread his hands over the globes of Stiles’ ass, push up inside of him. Stiles is the one who has to do most of the work, lifting his weight as best he can, riding Derek’s cock in short, determined thrusts. Derek is so out of it he can barely pay attention, mind flashing to images of Stiles’ mouth, to Stiles’ hands, to Stiles’ cock—

He moans against the back of Stiles’ neck, thrusting pointedly. He wants to participate too.

Stiles takes his hand and pulls it towards him. Derek wraps his hand around Stiles' cock and revels in the way he whimpers and moans and begs.

Derek wants to touch him, wants to make him feel good, but he can't keep from flipping them over, trying his best to stay inside Stiles as he presses him down into the blankets and fucks into him in slow but desperate strokes. He presses his hands into Stiles’ shoulders, keeping them pinned, and moves deliberately, fucking him in round, easy movements. It goes on like that for what feels like hours, the pulsing, vibrating heat so intense it feels like Derek can see it like steam rising from hot water.

He scarcely remembers to pull out and when he does, Stiles whines and claws at his back. But part of him is still awake and alert enough to remember that he can't, they can't. He doesn't know why, really, but he knows it's true.


 

Derek wakes up in a bed, wrapped around a shape of skin and sweat and warmth. He wakes up with stiff muscles, naked and tense, and he just wants to fall back asleep. But he can’t, because Stiles rolls over in his arms and guilt descends, creeping in like worms over his skin.

“How long?” he asks, removing himself from Stiles’ touch, trying to find his clothes.

“Probably two days, maybe three,” Stiles tells him, eyes still closed. “I’m starving.”

Derek feels a stab of want, of need to stay and protect and provide. “I'll have food brought down for you. And I—I will send Dr. Deaton down to…to be certain you're all right.”

“I’m fine,” Stiles says, stretching. “Maybe a little sore. It’ll wear off.” He shoves himself into a sitting position and Derek fastens his trousers, grabs for his shirt. It’s been shredded. “You’ll bring the food yourself?” Stiles asks. “Won’t you?”

“No.” Derek shakes his head. “I shouldn't, I'm—Stiles, I'm so sorry.”

He can't stand to look at him, but he has to when Stiles lays a hand over his shoulder. “Please. M'lord, don't regret this.”

“I hurt you,” he whispers.

“No,” Stiles says, pressing too close to him. “No, I'm not hurt. And you could never—it was what I wanted.”

“In the madness of your heat,” Derek accuses. “You weren’t—conscious. It’s not—no.” He shakes his head, continues towards the door. “Please, stay. I’ll have someone bring you food and the doctor will arrive presently.”

Maybe he’s a coward. That’s probably what Stiles thinks, what with him running out of the room, but he can’t pay attention to that. It’s what’s best for Stiles, that he leave, that he find Stiles a home with mated betas, that they give him a danger-free environment. But there’s another offer he has to make first.


 

Dr. Deaton comes to see him after examining Stiles—much to Stiles’ protest.

“He wasn’t lying, my lord. He’s quite well.”

Derek nods stiffly. “Is there a way to know if he is with child?”

“If he doesn’t go into heat next month, that is your answer. Until then, there is no way to be certain.” He claps Derek on the shoulder and takes his leave, and Derek feels his stomach turning.

He tries to avoid Stiles though part of him says it's cruel. It isn't until two days later that he realizes he's being a coward. He acted upon instinct, and perhaps Stiles knows himself when he says it was nothing outside his desires, but none of it absolves him of responsibility.

After dinner, he takes Stiles into the gardens—Kira’s gardens—and swallows his pride.

“I’ll marry you,” he says.

Stiles is quiet. “How generous of you, sir.”

“It’s the proper course of action—”

“I disagree,” Stiles says through a laugh, strolling down a line of roses. “I think you have your head buried somewhere inappropriate and you mistake me for someone with far more concerns about appearances.”

“If you’re with child—”

“I'm not,” Stiles says shortly.

“You can't—”

“I think I know my own body to know nothing is amiss. I am not with child and I've no reputation to save. Please, spare me your guilt and your martyrdom.” He huffs, crosses his arms over his chest. “Despite better mind, I have wanted you since I came to your house. I want you with heat and I want you without and if this upsets you, I will find someone else’s home to invade. But do not assume that you understand my motives because you do not.”

“Tell me your motives then,” he says, losing all decorum and grabbing Stiles' arm gently.

“Why don't you tell me if you've any real feelings for me?”

Derek swallows. “I—it’s not my place to be—”

“You do,” Stiles accuses. “And I suspect a lot of it is instinct, caring for me, protecting me, because I am omega in your household, but I was there, in that room, Derek. I felt you kiss me and I felt you want to provide for me. And I’ve seen how you look at me, like you’re apologizing, like you think it’s wrong for you want.”

“It is wrong,” he whispers. “It was wrong to want you and it was wrong to take you. You are vulnerable, unclaimed, abused, and so young. I was a—I shouldn't have but I did.”

Stiles is quiet. Silent. Just standing there under the moonlight, holding his elbows, looking at Derek unapologetically. Finally, he says, “I don’t want you to feel like you are obligated to marry me. If you would like to marry me—maybe we have a discussion about it. But not because of what happened during my heat. Just because you want to. And another thing.” Stiles is in his space in the blink of an eye, cupping the back of Derek’s neck, kissing him gently, sweetly, almost romantically, and Derek loses himself to it.

When he pulls away, Stiles is smiling. “Just in case you had any doubt of my desires in the light of day.”

“The sun is down,” Derek mutters.

“Derek.”

Derek closes his eyes, tips their foreheads together. “I need you to acknowledge that I did something wrong, Stiles. Even if to you it was acceptable, I did not behave admirably. If you will—if you can say that you forgive me, I would have something else to ask of you.”

Stiles sighs, stroking his hands down Derek’s cheeks. “I do forgive you,” he whispers. “I forgive you for whatever sins you fear you committed. And I don’t want to leave, I don’t. I want to stay here. With you. Let you take care of me.”

Derek is trembling. His knees feel weak. “I would like that. I can’t—I would like you to stay. Not leave.”


 

Derek calls for Scott immediately.

“I can't say I'm surprised,” Scott says slowly, “but I am worried. This is exactly what I was worried about.”

“I know,” Derek says, and his hands are shaking. “I—I know, and that’s why I had to come and ask you.”

Scott arches an eyebrow. “Wait just a moment. Anything you would have to ask me most certainly must appeal to something you would wish of me or my family, because if you would like my permission in anything that is Stiles’ decision, you have come to the wrong place.”

“I only—”

“I don’t have a say in what it is Stiles chooses to do, Lord Hale. I trust him to make his own decisions, which means either leaving your care or remaining in it. It’s that simple.”

“But—”

“Stiles is my brother, my friend. He was under my protection and now he is in yours. And if he wishes to return to my household he will, without questions. As I'm sure you'll give no objection now, things being what they are. But I have no say in what he will and will not do, and I'll await his choice as I'm sure you will.”

Derek knows it would be impolite for Scott to beckon him out of his home now, but he also has the feeling that the conversation is over. He looks slightly to his right, where there’s a door that’s open just a touch, and he smiles to himself.

“Do you make it a habit of forbidding your wife to join you in conversation?” he asks Scott, who then follows his eye line.

Scott laughs. “I only wondered if you wouldn’t want her to listen, but it seems she’s ignored that anyway.”

Kira pushes in through the door without having to be asked, throwing herself into Derek’s arms, and he stands to accept her, holding her tightly. Into his shoulder she whispers, “I knew Stiles would be good for you,” she says cheerily. “He’s so charming.”

“I think that's a rose colored view of the situation,” he mumbles.

Scott stands. “I would suggest that you speak to Stiles with as much patience as you can muster. I'm sure it will all be right if you do.”

Derek exits the embrace, stroking Kira’s loose hair. She looks so—grown up. More so than she had a few months ago. She’s glowing and healthy and beautiful, looks like a woman to Derek rather than a child, and it makes him both proud and horrified, because he doesn’t want her to grow up.

He turns back to Scott, nods slowly. “I’ll speak to him. I have to thank you for your patience with me. I—wish I could have done better by you.”


 

When he returns home he finds Stiles in the sitting room, his eyes closed and a book open over his chest. His limbs are spread ridiculously and without grace, like a child napping in the summer sun. He tries to make his way further inside without disrupting him, but he can only take two steps forward before Stiles splutters awake.

The book lands loudly on the floor and Stiles nearly falls off of the large seat, but he holds himself perched on the edge at the very last second, eyes wide and staring straight at Derek.

“I’m sorry,” Derek says quickly. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Stiles blinks. “I’m a light sleeper, my lord.”

Derek winces. “It’s not necessary for you to refer to me that way. Just—Derek. Is fine.”

“Oh?” Stiles asks, arching an eyebrow. “Interesting.”

“I enjoyed the title more when I was younger. Now it just makes me—uncomfortable. With certain people.”

“I suppose I should feel special?” He stands, picks up the book and sets it on the table in front of the chair. “That I am able to call you by your first name?”

“You may call me whatever you like,” Derek says on an exhale.

“Even if it is ‘my lord’?”

“As long as it is followed by the word ‘husband’.”

Stiles is still close, eyes dancing over Derek's lips before he takes a step back. “I think you get ahead of yourself.”

Derek raises an eyebrow. “And I think the ship of getting ahead of ourselves has long set sail.”

“Well I don't. I think—I think you hardly know me.”

“Do you think you know me?”

“I know plenty. Just because you're short and curt doesn't mean you're quiet. You've told me of your family and your loss, of your sister, of Kira. I know you spend your every spare moment in that study trying to do right by your dependants. I know plenty. It's you who knows nothing about me. Spouses should not be strangers.”

Derek shifts his weight. “So you will not marry me.”

“Do not put words in my mouth,” Stiles says, but he’s smiling minutely. “I would like to—take a certain amount of time to remedy our situation.”

“How would you propose we do that?”

He hums idly, reaching forward to stroke his hands down Derek’s arms, tangle their fingers together. “We talk,” he says, “and we listen. We spend time together, and we do not stay strangers. Scott courted Kira for nearly a year before he suggested marriage. They probably would have gotten married earlier, but he was smart about it, wanted to make sure they both were aware of their promises. And I would like the same thing.”

“A year?”

“Three weeks,” Stiles amends. “After my next heat, you may propose again.”

“That seems...reasonable. If improper.”

Stiles smiles, hands still on his. “I don't care much for what is and isn’t proper.”

“Yes, I'm beginning to understand that.” Derek leans ever slightly forward, pressing a light, chaste kiss to Stiles’ mouth. “So I am to court you for a month.”

“You are,” Stiles says. “I can’t imagine there would be other ways to spend your time you would enjoy more than this. I am, after all, young and nubile and quite handsome if I do say so.”

“You are,” Derek agrees, squeezing his hands. “I look forward to the next opportunity to propose.”

“I’m sure you do. Well—let us start.”

Derek has Mr. Boyd and Miss Morell help draft a schedule of events. There are concerts and plays and readings to go to, ways to entertain Stiles each night. They dress finely and go out, make appearances. Everyone is apparently very interested in Derek’s omega ward, and there’s no secret to be kept now, because Derek is clear that Stiles is his.

“I would be worried if I were you, about other Alphas trying to capture him out from under your nose,” a beta named Daniel tells him. His mate is an Alpha, a rare combination but apparently more and more popular lately. “Have you had offers of marriage for him yet?”

“I’m courting him,” Derek says, and he tries not to seem too proud about it.

Daniel looks impressed. “It's no surprise that you would take an interest in him; I'm sure everyone was whispering about it. But to be so upfront about it.”

“What do I have to hide? And who from?”

“Well if any younger, stronger Alphas try to challenge you for him I won't underestimate how boldly you'll defend your claim.”

Derek nods, smiling now. “And you shouldn’t.” He glances over his shoulder to where Stiles is making conversation with a smattering of betas and Alphas alike. He looks incredibly at ease, entirely unworried, and he looks towards Derek quickly as well, and they share a moment.

“I wish you the best of luck,” Daniel tells him, smiling pleasantly. “I know of no one else who deserves love as much as yourself, my lord.”

He wanders away, leaving Derek to ponder his words, and Stiles returns, mouth split into a happy grin. “I overheard your conversation.”

“You were across the room.”

“I was listening in,” Stiles tells him. “You should know that although I do not require you to attempt to preserve my honor, I do enjoy hearing you brag that you are the one currently in my attentions.”

“Currently and permanently,” he says just under his breath.

Stiles doesn't blush, never does unless the temperature causes it, but he does smile coyly at him. “We'll see,” he teases.

It’s still important that Derek doesn’t touch him like he wants to. At the end of their evenings together, he might be swayed towards a kiss, but even as Stiles reaches for more, asks for more (and Derek wants to give more, he does), he thinks there is something to be said for waiting.

“Utter nonsense,” Stiles says, dragging Derek’s mouth against his.

“If you are with child before we’re married—”

Stiles kisses him to keep him quiet.

They spend full days alone together in Derek’s study, in the parlor, in the kitchens, hiding from Miss Morell and Derek’s duties. Derek bakes a dessert for the entire household—multiple desserts really—and Stiles watches. Stiles talks while Derek works, and Derek listens, because he said he was going to.

Stiles’ mother died in childbirth. He never knew her, but his father was an artist, liked to draw whatever he saw. He has dozens of sketches of his mother, tucked away in his rooms, all done by his father.

“He was in the military,” Stiles says as Derek selects fruit to put into his tart. “Everyone he deployed with—they never returned. I was fifteen.”

Derek looks up. “What did you do?” he asks, but he suspects he knows the answer.

“I had been living with a neighbor,” Stiles tells him, looking down at his feet, “but when word came that he was gone, they decided to send me to an orphanage so they wouldn’t have to look after me. I ran away and ended up—I—heats can be triggered by stress or fear—” He takes a deep breath, wipes away a stray tear, and Derek rounds the table, coming to stop right in front of him, where he’s seated on the counter, knees equal to Derek’s ribs.

“Stiles.”

“There was a house of them,” Stiles says. “Of Alphas. They were playing a card game, and I was wandering around outside, knocking on doors, asking people for something to eat. One of them, a woman, she took me inside and I think she was trying to—to protect me maybe but as soon as my heat came on, one of the men killed her, just to get to me.” He takes a breath, laughs a little bit, like he can’t hold it in. “And then after, it must have been days or even a week, most of them wandered away but a few stayed. It was harder then, I didn't have the fever of my heat to distract me from them. And it was hard to get away. But I did. And I found food. And it happened for a few more heats, though not as...many or as brutally until Scott found me.”

“And he took you in,” Derek surmises.

“At first I was terrified,” Stiles admits, “because I knew he was an Alpha, but he—there was never any issue. He was kind and playful and I had never met an Alpha so young but he was—my best friend. And his mother took care of me and he became my brother. And I never looked back.”

Derek wipes his hands off on a nearby cloth, reaching up to stroke his thumbs across Stiles’ cheeks. “Good,” he mutters, tipping their forehead together. “I—I am so sorry—”

“We’ve all had our struggles,” Stiles interrupts. “We move on. Together.”

“You’re stronger than I would have been.”

Stiles shrugs one shoulder. “I try as best I can to not be helpless. I take care of myself, get what I need when I need it. And letting Scott protect me was just an exercise in not being so alone in the world. I don't need protecting or providing, I'm not a perfect docile omega, and if you want to give me your protection and provide for me and take care of me I'll accept it, but I won't fade away without it. I'm not the kind to fade. And I expect you'll accept my protection as well. I don't believe Alphas are as self-sufficient as they'd have the world believe.”

“You’re correct in that,” Derek sighs. He pulls back, drops his hands to his sides again. “I am looking forward to having you by my side for many days to come.”

Stiles’ lips twitch with a smile, and he steals a kiss. “As am I.”


 

Half a week before Stiles’ next heat, Kira visits. She storms the gates, looking tremendously thrilled, but Scott isn’t with her. Stiles is in town with Mr. Boyd, had wanted to go to the markets but had declined Derek’s company, and so Derek is strolling in the gardens when Miss Morell lets the young woman free, causing her to jump onto his back and startle him tremendously.

“You’re a terrible Alpha,” she accuses, dropping to her feet. “You didn’t even hear me coming.”

“You’re quiet,” Derek counters, and he turns to kiss her cheek. “What brings you here?”

She beams grandly. “Scott wanted to be here to tell you as well, but he’s tied up with work. We’ve been married for over three months now so this can’t be very surprising to you—”

Derek’s heart drops into his stomach, his head reeling. “You’re pregnant,” he whispers, at the same time Kira announces it.

She's grinning and he knows he isn't but he also knows that he's much more shocked to hear this than he should be. He wants to be angry, so angry—that now he won't be able to ignore the truth of it. She isn't a child, not his little girl anymore, not now that she's a woman carrying her own child.

She stops bouncing on the balls of her feet, reaches out for Derek’s hands, smile fading. “Derek? I—I was hoping you would be—happy. For me. For both me and Scott.”

“I am,” Derek says hurriedly. “Yes, yes, of course—I’m so pleased for you both.” He drags her into a proper hug. “I suppose I’m—surprised.” He pulls back, brushing her hair behind her ears. “Have you seen Dr. Deaton?”

“Scott’s mother is a healer,” Kira laughs, rolling her eyes. “But we could hear the heartbeat two days ago anyway. We’re certain.”

“Of course. Of course you are.”

“Derek?”

“You're just a girl,” he whines and he knows he sounds pathetic. She smiles at him, soft and sweet and a little bit pitying.

“I'm not, but I know it's hard for you to see that. You are happy though, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” He kisses her forehead and nods. “Yes, I'm very happy and I—you'll do a wonderful job. We'll have to get everything you'll need, everything you'll want.”

She giggles, squeezes his shoulders. “Scott can take of me just fine, Derek. It’s your job to look after Stiles. Where is he?”

“In town. He’ll be back before supper. You’re welcome to join us. Scott, as well. I’ll send a carriage for him.”

“I can go back and gather him. We’ll be back after sunset.” She goes to hug him again, this embrace tighter and longer than the last. “Thank you,” she says, resting her head on his shoulder. “Thank you for everything.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“You did,” she argues, and she kisses his cheek. “I’ll return with Scott in a few hours. Don’t tell Stiles the good news yet! Scott wants to be the one to do it.”

Derek nods. “I promise.”

He doesn’t even have the presence of mind to even remember that Kira and Scott are returning when Stiles strolls into the parlor, a stack of books in his arms. He’s dusted with a fine layer of dirt, probably from the road, sticking to his skin atop sweat, and he jerks his head towards the hall that leads to the library, beckoning Derek after him.

Derek goes, following like a puppy after its master, and he watches as Stiles finds places for the books in the vast shelves.

“A woman was giving these away!” Stiles tells him. “Can you imagine? Just to give away books—amazing.”

“Mhmm.”

“So I thought we might as well give them a good home.” He turns finally, when he’s finished, and beams grandly at Derek, stepping forward to kiss him hello. “Tired?”

“Just lost in thought.”

“You smell like Kira. She came to see you?”

“To tell me that she and Scott would like to come to supper this evening.”

“She could have sent a note,” Stiles points out.

Derek only shrugs.

“Well I best take a bath before I have to get ready for supper,” Stiles says with a long sigh. “Such a tedious task. Boring, really.”

“Stiles,” Derek warns.

“What? Have I said something out of turn?”

“You are implying—”

“I am implying nothing. Only perhaps—since my heat will turn up any moment really, maybe we should—with our wits about us.” He doesn't actually finish any of his statements, just trails his fingertips over Derek's arm.

Derek had figured that Stiles expected Derek to be there through his heat, and it’s not a ridiculous request. Even if he did become pregnant—which was entirely possible—they would be so close to marriage that it would hardly matter in the public’s eye.

Derek sighs, nuzzles at Stiles’ throat. “I still believe that we should wait. If you would like to…be together during your heat, I will take it into consideration—”

“Take a bath with me,” Stiles insists. “Your tub is so grand, it could easily fit the two of us and probably two more as well. I need someone to wash my back, anyway.”

“Stiles,” he says one more time, his will bending already.

Stiles smiles. “Don't you trust your own control?”

Derek becomes very serious then and cups Stiles' cheek. “I would never—I'd never touch you in any way you don't desire. And I—perhaps during your heat we should take measures, should you change your mind.”

Stiles looks touched and leans his forehead against Derek's. “Because you think of these things, because you're so concerned at the very thought of giving an unwanted touch, that's why I know that I can trust you.” He presses a sweet, short kiss to Derek’s lips. “Come,” he whispers, grabbing one of his hands and tugging him down the hall and across to Derek’s large bedroom.

“Stay here,” Derek says, breathing in his scent. “I’ll have someone bring plenty of hot water.”

He goes down to the kitchens to ask them to heat enough to fill his tub and Stiles is still in Derek’s bedroom when staff members haul in the water, pouring it into the basin. Derek watches the steam rise, muscles tensing, and when they’re dismissed, Stiles practically bolts for it, sinking into it with a low whine.

“Hot?” Derek asks.

“Perfect,” Stiles sighs, tipping his head back.

Derek takes off his jacket and vest, pulls his sleeves up and kneels beside the tub.

“Thought you were joining me?”

Derek grabs a cloth and begins rubbing at Stiles' shoulders. “Perhaps.” He nods towards the extra buckets of water to the side. “When you’re clean, maybe I’ll be willing.”

Stiles laughs, splashes him. “At least take off your shirt,” he says, one hand reaching out to start unbuttoning it. “It’s not fair that I’m the naked one.”

“You’re beautiful,” Derek tells him, kissing his temple. “Don’t be embarrassed.”

Stiles isn't embarrassed. He stretches and squirms until the water is murky and his skin is clean and pink with the heat of the bath.

Derek changes out the water himself, and the tub is then full of water much nicer than the scalding heat of Stiles’ bath. Stiles jumps in again, splashing around and laughing to himself while Derek undresses, and when Derek is naked, he joins Stiles, sitting right behind him, holding him in his lap.

“Mmm,” Stiles says pleasantly, squirming against his chest. “How pleasant.”

Derek runs his fingers through Stiles' hair, can't help but press his lips against the base of his neck.

“You know,” Stiles says quietly, “I don't think we determined whether you'd wait until after my heat, but it's not a question I'd like to attempt answering mid fever.”

“I agree,” Derek tells him, running his nose along Stiles’ skin. He sighs slightly, squeezing Stiles’ elbows. “If it’s what you’d like, I will be there for you.”

“Are you worried that you might put a child in me?”

“It is always a possibility.”

“But are you worried about it? Is that something you would not like? After—I've learned how to avoid it. It's not difficult, if—if you don't want that.”

Derek bites his tongue for a moment. It’s an entirely natural urge, the want an Alpha has for children. They continue the line, make the pack stronger, make the Alpha stronger, and they’re proof of an Alpha’s virility, their ability to care for their mate. So yes, Derek wants children, pups, little wolves of his own, wants them with a passion he hadn’t even realized until quite this moment.

“Derek?”

“I want you,” Derek says brokenly. “But I—yes, of course I want children. It’s only—you’re so young.”

“And what does it matter? My being young?”

“It should,” Derek says quietly. “It should matter. It should make you want someone as young as you. It should make you pause at the thought of having my cubs.”

Stiles scoffs, settling against Derek’s chest. “That’s ridiculous. We’re going to have children and five years from now you will still be just as much older than me as you are now. If you thought I was going to search for a younger wolf to court me, you would not have put so much effort into making me happy. You have to know that I have no plans to go elsewhere.”

And Derek does know that, believes that, but there’s the tiniest piece of self-doubt that will continue to work its way into his head. He closes his eyes, spreads his hands along Stiles’ stomach. “Good,” he says in a growling voice. “Stay.”

“Derek.”

“Hm?”

“My heat. You’ll stay with me?”

“Yes.” Derek nods so that Stiles can feel it. “Yes, of course I will.” He can't see Stiles, but he knows the younger man is smiling. He knows it in the way his body is lax and resting against his.

They stay like that for several minutes, until Derek’s blood is too hot in his veins. He has control, won’t do anything unless Stiles asks, but there’s nothing he can do about his cock pressing heavily into Stiles’ back, doesn’t have any room to move away. Stiles apparently doesn’t mind. He grabs the back of Derek’s neck, pulling him over his shoulder to kiss, and then takes Derek’s hand, leading it between his legs.

“This is better than before,” Stiles tells him, brushing their mouths together. “Much more lucid.”

“We shouldn't...”

“Who says so?” Stiles whispers against his mouth. “Who says we can only do this when we've the madness of a heat to excuse it? What if I want you now? With every inch of my body and my mind? What then?”

Derek chokes back a groan. “Then you’ll have me,” he says, and it doesn’t feel like giving up. It feels like allowing himself something he wants, something Stiles wants, and he was never going to be able to deny this man anything. Every day for the rest of his life, he’s going to be striving to give Stiles whatever he wants.

Derek strokes him simple and slow, holds him and pulls on his cock as if it were a phantom limb of his own. Stiles’ mouth releases beautiful, breathtaking noises, and Derek isn’t ashamed, isn’t afraid that they’ll be overheard. He’s sure the entire estate knows, and he’s proud.

Stiles moans and rakes his nails over Derek's arm, this back of his neck.

Derek keeps his movements deliberately slow, presses hot kisses to Stiles throat while he strokes him. He wants to take his time with this, wants to make sure that Stiles feels it, savors it, so that when they can’t be slow later, they’ll still have this.

Stiles rolls his body back against Derek’s and it’s not enough, not really, but Derek doesn’t want to come yet anyway. He only wants to make Stiles feel good, make him bask in his own pleasure and have it slow, deliberate.

When Stiles comes, he makes a sound like the breath is knocked out of him and he spins slowly in the water until he's facing Derek, looking deep into his eyes.

His voice is softer than usual. “Will you be my Alpha?”

Derek cups his face, watching water drip from his fingertips down Stiles’ cheeks. He nods. “Yes,” he says, angling in for a kiss. “I will be anything you wish of me.”

Stiles kisses him like he’s dying. He kisses Derek like it’s their first and last kiss, like he needs Derek to be kissing him all of the time, and Derek leans into it, gives and takes in equal measure, does whatever he can to soothe Stiles’ ache.

Stiles straddles him, half out of the water, one hand on the back of Derek’s neck. The other he wraps around Derek’s cock, tugging at the same pace of his eager kisses, fast and unrelenting. Derek lets him, lets him take, take everything and anything he needs.

“I love you,” Stiles gasps out. “Is it indecent to admit so, my lord? My love?”

Derek groans, gripping Stiles’ waist. “No,” he gasps. “No, it is—perfect. I love—I love you—” He breaks off because Stiles has taken to squeezing the head of his cock, playing with his foreskin, entirely distracted from what seemed to previously be his goal. And Derek just breathes, tries to kiss him, accepts what he’s given and doesn’t ask for more.

“Tell me again,” Stiles says. “Please, love.”

“I love you,” Derek says dutifully, opening his heavy eyelids to look Stiles in the eyes, honest and intense. “I love you more than you could ever know.”

Stiles smiles into Derek’s cheek, kisses him sweetly and slowly and then, all at once, hungry and desperate, and they don’t speak anymore after that. It’s only harsh kisses and grabbing for each other, Stiles’ hand tight and wonderful around Derek’s cock, water sloshing dramatically over the sides of the tub.

When he comes, he groans Stiles’ name, and he can hear Stiles laughing happily as his vision whites out, his head going fuzzy. It takes a long moment for him to come back to himself, but when he does, Stiles is there, atop him, petting his hair.

“We should bathe together more often,” Stiles whispers.

“Whenever you wish,” Derek whispers back, with a lost smile playing on his lips.


 

Stiles is positively thrilled about Kira’s pregnancy. They’re at the table when Scott breaks the news and Stiles nearly leaps across to hug him. Kira and Derek share a secret look, and Stiles parades Kira around the room, looking at her from every angle. He’s absolutely elated.

“I’m going to be an uncle,” he declares proudly. He looks at Derek. “Uncle Stiles, Uncle Derek.”

Scott arches an eyebrow. “Is there something we should know?” he asks.

“Derek hasn’t proposed quite yet,” Stiles says dismissively. “Another week. Don’t ruin the surprise.”

Derek laughs, loud and pleased, and Kira just watches him for the rest of the night, as if she’s looking at something she’s never seen before.

“I’ve never seen you so happy,” she whispers to him later when they’re saying their goodbyes. “Weeks ago you were—quite upset with yourself.”

“Any decent person would be,” Derek argues, tugging playfully on a piece of her hair. “I am happy. Thank you for noticing.”

“Your gratitude should go to Stiles.”

Derek grins. “It does.”

It's only two days later that he startles awake with the dip of his mattress. It is the darkest part of night but the scent of his intruder is unmistakable.

“It's only just started,” Stiles whispers in the dark room.

Derek sits up, reaching out for Stiles. “The basement?”

“It’s not as if they won’t know. And we have the tub and they’ll bring food.” Omegas are built to survive heat without food, without nourishment of any kind, but that doesn’t make it comfortable, and it doesn’t make it right. “This is better,” Stiles decides, coming to rest between Derek legs. “Your bed is more comfortable than the one in the basement.”

Derek wraps his arms around him, tucks Stiles into his body and revels in the warmth of his rising heat.

“It's to be our marriage bed,” Stiles teases. “What's to keep us from using it now?”

“You will not hear me arguing,” Derek says, rolling on top of him. He removes the extra blankets, keeping just himself and Stiles on the bed, and Stiles is naked but for loose trousers, soft and giving. Derek is similarly dressed, but that won’t matter for long. “Did it wake you up?”

Stiles hums, nodding. Derek’s mouth drifts along Stiles’ throat, human teeth scraping against his jugular. “Yes,” he says breathlessly.

“Tell me.”

“I was—sleeping on my stomach,” Stiles says, hooking his ankles over Derek’s. “And I woke up sweating, just barely, my cock growing hard. It’s always this dull, throbbing ache at first. It won’t truly become maddening for a few hours.”

“What if we get a head start?” Derek growls softly.

Stiles makes a small, encouraging noise. “Yes.”

Derek licks and bites at his throat. “What if I fill you and keep you full?”

“Will you knot me?” he asks, dragging his nails down Derek’s back. “You didn’t last time, even when I thought you would. I thought you would knot me, Derek, and you slipped out of me, left me so empty—”

“Stiles—”

“Say you will, my lord,” Stiles moans, arching his body against Derek’s. “Want you to push me, breed me, fill me with your pups—”

Derek captures his mouth easily, tilting his chin the way he wants it, and he stays there for long minutes, kissing Stiles quiet as he undresses them both. He kisses him until he can’t wait any longer and then buries himself between Stiles’ thighs, licking up Stiles’ cock.

He's hot and growing wet and ready and perfect for him and he knows he will. He knows even though Stiles is just a boy compared to him he'll do it. He'll knot him and hold him while they're tied and keep him full just the way he should, just the way Stiles wants him to.

“Until I'm so well fit inside you that I'll never want to leave.”

He's losing sense of himself already, not even realizing he'd been speaking aloud. Stiles only moans, squirms against the fingers that Derek has pushed inside of him. He’s not out of it yet, not really, but he’s definitely distracted, and Derek uses it to his advantage. He wants Stiles to come, hold the worst part of his heat at bay, tamp down on the fog that’s sure to make them both lose themselves.

Derek loves the feeling of Stiles’ in his mouth, in his throat. He loves the heft, the taste, the scent, the noises Stiles makes. In a lot of ways, heat is just about pleasure. With the right partner, it can be an incredibly enjoyable experience from what Derek’s heard. He wants it to be good. He wants it to be right.

Stiles drags his fingers through Derek’s hair, tugs on it, guides his head up and down his cock, and Derek feels delightfully used, even better so when Stiles comes down his throat, pushing against Derek’s fingers and making soft sobbing noises.

He puts Stiles on his knees and elbows, propped up and swaying ever so slightly. He looks beautiful like this, all pale skin, dotted with freckles. Gorgeous, stunning, and he’s quiet, waiting.

“Stiles?”

“The worst part of all of this,” Stiles says, face half pushed against a pillow, “is that I always expect it to be different. After coming the first time, there’s a sense of—relief. Clarity. That you might not succumb to it so strongly, but you always do.”

Derek covers Stiles’ body with his own, wraps his arms around him, holds him tightly. “I’m going to be right here, Stiles.”

“The only heat I have truly enjoyed was last month, and I cannot even remember most of it. But I remember not hating it. I remember you being there, just as you are now.”

Derek kisses him softly and tries to soothe him with gentle touches. “They are strong because you are young, because you've not yet had cubs. It will get better, and I will be here.”

“Always?”

“Forever,” Derek promises.

When Derek knots him, they’re lying on their sides, Stiles scooped against Derek’s body. Derek only knows one sensation, and it is the desperate need to stay inside of Stiles for as long as he possibly can, to come inside of him, breed him, and he knows—with his moments of clarity—that the heat is taking them both under, but he can’t care. Stiles wants this, Derek wants this, and so it’s going to happen.

Sleep, knot, eat—all repeating, in tender cycles of haze that bleed into consciousness.

When he wakes, Stiles is still sleeping, but he looks content and healthy, like he's resting instead of recovering. Derek tries to make the room look tidy and meets the maid at the door for their breakfast with a smile. She smiles back and curtsies slightly before handing him the platter and scurrying away.

He sets the platter down on the table in the middle of the room, runs his hands through his hair. His body feels—good. Sore. His arms, his legs, his back, even that tender place where he let Stiles inside of him. He remembers it with a smile, the slick oil Stiles pushed inside of him, followed by his cock. A change of pace, just for the fun of it.

Alphas males are the only types of wolf that cannot bear children. It’s ridiculous to Derek that—given how eager everyone is to continue their race—there would be a biological impossibility like that, but he does not dwell on it for long. He’s not sure what they would do if they were both pregnant.

“The day,” Stiles says groggily, rolling over in bed.

“Four have passed.”

He huffs a small laugh to himself. “It is over, then?”

“We assume so.” Derek gathers fruit and sausages and bread onto a plate, carries it over to the bed. “Your breakfast, Mr. Stilinski.”

“My thanks, Lord Derek.”

“How do you feel?” Derek asks with slight concern.

Stiles smiles as he picks up the bread on his plate. “Perfect. Right. Tired. But not as tired as I have been.” He sits up halfway against the pillows, tearing the bread and taking small bites. “And yourself?”

“Worn,” Derek confesses, smiling. “But pleasantly so.”

“Thank you for staying with me,” Stiles says, “though I do think it was enjoyable.”

“It was,” Derek says as he moves forward, unable to keep the distance between them. “And I hope it will continue to be. If—if you'll have me.”

Stiles smirks, setting down his food and leaning forward to meet him. “What are you saying, my lord?”

Derek blushes, nervous though he's confident in this. “I—that it would give me the greatest pleasure and honor if you agreed to marry me.”

Stiles hums, one hand gently petting the back of Derek’s neck. “I think I could easily adjust to people referring to me as ‘lord’, don’t you agree?”

Derek laughs heartily, joy overtaking him. “It’s a title that would suit you well.”

“As it does you. My lord husband.”

“My lord husband,” Derek agrees, and pulls Stiles in to kiss.